Irish church records

This guide was last updated in 2010

Dervla Kirwan is Dublin born and her episode of Who Do You Think You Are? focused on her Irish roots.

Many people will find an ancestor of Irish origin and it may be possible to obtain further records for such an ancestor in Ireland. The main aspects of Irish genealogy were discussed in the Bruce Forsyth Take it Further guide. This guide will concentrate on Irish church records which can be particularly vital due to the destruction of so many other records in Ireland.

The majority of Irish are Roman Catholic although other churches also feature, especially in Northern Ireland with large numbers of Scottish Protestants being planted by James I in the seventeenth century. This was done deliberately to try and reduce the threat of rebellion against English rule. Henceforth, the Presbyterian Church was also established. The Methodists arrived in 1747 when John Wesley visited the country and founded his movement. There were also Quakers practising in Ireland from the seventeenth century onwards. The Established Church, however, was the Church of Ireland and it remained so until 1870.

The survival of Church records varies according to which church your ancestor belonged to. Ireland also had two different parish systems, one for the Catholic Church and another for the Church of Ireland. Obviously you will need to ascertain your ancestor’s religion before beginning a search in Church records. The type of records are discussed below.

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